Since Rwanda started its tree-planting celebrations over 48 years ago, it’s become a big deal and formed the fabric of nature conservation in the country.

Umuganda, a monthly community service day that takes place on the last Saturday of every month and brings people together to help the community, promotes planting trees as a way to address the growing effects of the climate emergency in the country. This year, the goal is to plant 63 million seedlings from October 2023 to February 2024 under the theme: “Healthy Forests, Healthy Planet.”

As part of Global Citizen's Move Afrika: Rwanda advocacy campaign to protect the planet and its inhabitants through climate action, tackling the debt crisis, and promoting food security, we organized a tree-planting event for Umuganda on the last Saturday of November 2023. The event brought together over 300 young people aged 18 to 35 for a day of climate action-taking.

First, buses brought the youth to the misty mountain top of Kigali Cultural Village in Rebero. Then, wearing “Move Afrika'' t-shirts, young people spread themselves across the area to get into the work of planting 1,000 trees.

The Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, was also in attendance and stressed that these were “native trees, not eucalyptus trees” — an essential point to note as protecting and boosting indigenous vegetation is a key to improving ecosystems and defending the planet from the climate crisis. 

Image: Maimuna Maibe for Global Citizen

The event also saw Rwanda’s Minister of Youth, Sandrine Umutoni; CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Francis Gatare; Mayor of Kigali City, Pudence Rubingisa; and community leaders all participate in the Umuganda tree-planting event. 

Liz Agbor-Tabi, Global Citizen’s Vice President of Global Policy and Strategic Partnerships, told the youth that by participating in tree planting, they not only show their commitment to the community and the environment, but they also express their willingness to contribute to the development of their country.

“Your commitment extends beyond today’s actions. To stay engaged with Global Citizen and the Move Afrika initiative, we invite you to visit our website, download our app, and sign up to become a Global Citizen,” she said.

Image: Liz Agbor-Tabi for Global Citizen.

She continued: “This ongoing involvement allows you to continue to take meaningful action with us as an organization and [support] the Move Afrika movement over the next five years.”

Move Afrika, Global Citizen’s latest initiative aimed at addressing global inequalities, intends to come back to Rwanda annually for more impactful activations over the next five years. One of the main focuses of this pan-African campaign that’s kicked off in Rwanda, is to create jobs and provide economic opportunities for young people, not only in Rwanda but also across the continent through annual world-class events. Agbor-Tabi encourages global citizens, like you, to take action.

Addressing the hundreds of young people in attendance, Minister of Youth, Sandrine Umutoni said: “Dear youth, our communities are indeed made better by the commitment we make, regardless of our age or socio-economic background,” said Umutoni. “I call on all of our youth to remain active and play their role in rebuilding, or building stronger communities that consider the protection of our surrounding environment a non-negotiable national priority.”

To harness the minister’s point, Dr. Mujawamariya emphasized that choosing actions like planting trees and safeguarding the environment is the centerpiece for our collective survival. It directly impacts our health, well-being, and the quality of the air we breathe. 

“As individuals, we can just do a little, but as Global Citizens, we can do more together,” she said.  “We need to keep in mind that we are more than just individuals, and that gives me hope for the youth to even rise up to the challenges facing our changing world. Let us be Global Citizens because Rwanda means the universe.”

RDB’s Francis Gatare said: “Over the next five years, we’ll partner with Global Citizen to encourage people across Africa to actively participate in their community’s life and well-being. This includes areas like health, education, environment, economic well-being, and most importantly, community development.”

The Move Afrika: Rwanda campaign aims to promote stronger health systems as a pathway to promoting equity. We’re also calling on world leaders to defend our planet and its inhabitants, and to create jobs and economic opportunity. Everything you need to know about how Global Citizen made impact through this campaign is right here.

Global Citizen Life

Demand Equity

Rwanda’s Global Citizens Plant 1,000 Trees for Move Afrika

By Nadia Lobti